Twitter and Facebook are the social media hype, and there is a reason that political figures such as the 10 candidates for the 2012 Presidential election have put so much emphasis on these two forms of advertisement. As a recent CNN article explains, twitter and Facebook have become a powerful outlet for people to anonymously protest any subject matter without pending consequences. In the case of the 2012 election, Facebook and twitter have given the general public a chance to speak out against particular candidates without having to reveal too much information about themselves.
As a communications intern, I closely follow the social media of the 2012 election candidates. Facebook and twitter have caught my attention because of the immense amount of the instantaneous reactions that erupt when a candidate tweets or updates their Facebook wall. Twitter and Facebook have allowed the general public to personally interact with these political figures by tagging candidates in their tweets (@example or #example), responding to tweets, retweeting, or commenting on Facebook posts. I have read through thousands of tweets and comments on candidate’s Facebook and twitter accounts. My research has shown that people are using these social outlets to express strong opinions and negativity towards candidates. Further, any person can retweet an idea on twitter, and gain followers, which causes an idea to grow and become more powerful. So unlike Presidential elections in the past, our upcoming Presidential election will be controlled by anybody and everybody with a keyboard and a phone line with an opinion and wanting to share to speak out on the internet.
People with like-minded ideas on Facebook have caused protests; caused governments to shut down; and entire markets to come to a stand-still. In the last month, the Pope sent out the first Holy tweet, the President of the United States tweeted for the first time at a Twitter town hall, and candidates have engaged in a Twitter debate.
So I urge you to take note of the social media actions of the 2012 election candidates. Why? For several reasons. You will learn by reading through Facebook comments and tweet mentions who are the most popular candidates and who are not. Yes, you can look at recent polls for that information, but trust me it is very interesting to read what the general public has to say about their beloved future Presidents. Also, you can note which candidates have disabled their comments from Youtube or deleted their negative comments from Facebook, which tells you a lot about their particular audience.
So ask yourself, how have you used social media to connect to a political figure?